The current exchange rate is about 1500 Kyat to $1 USD. There are numerous banks now in town as well as at the airport. There are now ATM kiosks as well now around the city, allowing you to withdrawal 300,000 Kyats ($200) 3 times a day. Some hotels and high end restaurants accept credit cards.
These two simple phrases, paired with a smile, will get you very far with the locals:
- Min-gala-bar – Hello
- Ta-tar – Goodbye
- Hote-dal – Yes
- Ma-hote-bu – No
- Kyay-zuu-bar – thank you
- Kyay-zuu-amyar-gyi-tin-bar-dal– thank you very much
Unlike other destinations in Myanmar, boats are the main mode of transport in Inle. If you stay on or on the lake’s edge, getting around can be less convenient. However, you can arrange for a water taxi from your hotel and if you do have road access, you can rent a motorcycle taxi or bicycle to get around the lake. Most boat drivers speak a little English and will understand you when asking to go to popular sites, markets, hotels, etc. Your hotel will surely be able to assist you in acquiring one. Always negotiate the price before getting into the boat and take a hotel card with you so that you can give them the information if needed when you want to return.
Tip: Ask your guide and/or the hotel staff in advance what the maximum amount you should pay.
Bistro At 82nd (82nd, between 30/31st) If you are looking for more European flare, then Bistro At 82nd is really the only place to go in downtown Mandalay. This cozy bistro-style restaurant is a bit pricer than other restaurant options in town, but they offer a selection of comfort foods you will not find elsewhere in town. Even if you don’t come for dinner, stop by for happy hour or after dinner drink. We recommend the Mango Mojito!
Tel; +95 9 250 121 280
Mya Nan Dar (Strand Rd, between 26/35 St) Tree-shaded open air pavilions along the riverside offer nice views and a cool break from the city’s heat. Food is good and varied but the bigger draws (October to February) are the free puppet shows at 1pm and traditional dances (7.30pm to 9pm).
Tel; +95 9402600888
Green Elephant Restaurant (27th Street, between 64th & 65th Street) The Green Elephant Restaurant chain is probably the most popular in Myanmar. It has three branches in the country: Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay. The one in Mandalay is one of the few upscale dining places in the city, and it is housed in a 1920s colonial house. The menu features Burmese and Asian (Chinese and Thai) dishes. The beef curry with soy paste and lime leaves is highly recommended.
Ko’s Kitchen Thai Restaurant (corner of 19th St. and 80th St.) You will find authentic, tasty Northern Thai dishes at Ko’s Kitchen. You can’t go wrong with this long time standard visited by both locals and tourists. The friendly service and cool, relaxed atmosphere add to the no frills ambience. Open for lunch and dinner.
Tel; +95 2 69576, 09 962031265, 09 91024600
Shwe Shan Restaurant (22nd St, between 90th and 91st St) This local favorite, which is also frequently visited by tour groups is known for their delicious Shan buffet at a reasonable price. Since it is buffet style you will have the opportunity to try traditional favorites and some local delicacies like pork intestine, fish tomato rice, crispy fermented soybean relish and much more.
Tel; +95 9 43012909, 9 444043300, 9 5136546
NOVA Coffee (37thSt between 79th and 80th) This western style coffee shop and café is a must stop during your day of touring Mandalay city. While they have a tasty menu offering some enticing fusion dishes we definitely recommend their coffee drinks & desserts (chocolate molten cake) (10:00AM- 10:00PM) !
Tel; +95 940 276 6721, 977 755 5568
Min-Thiha Cafe (28th St, Coner of 72 St) Teashop culture in Mandalay is held to a similar standard as coffee in Europe. You will constantly see locals stopping in for tea throughout the day and night at tea shops around town. We recommend Min Thiha Cafe. Make sure to try there specialty of black tea with condensed. There is also and a assortment of local breakfast/snack favorites like Shan noodle salads, glass noodle soup, Indian Roti, Nam, Mone-hin-khar are available (5:00 Am – 5:30 Pm).
Tel; +95 (0)2 33960, 2 64623
Mandalay Marionettes Theatre (66th, between 26th and 27th) Help to support this traditional art form by attending a performance at the Mandalay Marionettes Theatre. The performance is held nightly from 8:30Pm – 9:30Pm in the quaint theatre and is accompanied by live traditional music. Ticket prices are 15000 Kyats (10$) per foreigner, free of charges for local people. Ask your guide to assist you in making ticket reservations.
Tel; +95 2 34 446, 09 797134446
Mandalay is known as the crafts center and the birthplace of the country’s rich culture and traditional arts. Mandalay has no much shopping centers or malls, but they make up for it in local markets and countless small local shops selling gems, jewelry, souvenirs and handicrafts. We have a selected a few of our favorites below:
Aung Nan Handicrafts Workshop (Pyitawthar Quarter, Chanmyathazi Township, opposite Myohaung Warehouse) If you have limited time this is the ideal place to shop and meet some of the local artisans. Here you will find many of the countries prized handicrafts such as wood carvings, tapestry work, furniture, puppets, textiles and much more.
Zegyo (Zay Cho) Market (Between 84th and 86th St. and 26th and 28th Street)
Zegyo is one of the most famous markets in Mandalay as it is the oldest and most centrally located in the city. Here you can investigate the local produce and edibles in their fresh market as well as shop for textiles, souvenirs and fine jewelry. Even if you are not shopping, Zegyo is a great place to explore and observe the local culture.
Thiri Mandalar Market (Between 22nd and 23rd, East Thiri Mandalar Quarter)
You can spend hours (days) in this huge market of nine three-story buildings consisting of approximately 2,318 shops. This market is particularly special because it is the center of trading for regional products coming from surrounding rural Irrawaddy river region.
Gem Palace (Corner of 33rd and 83rd Street)
This shop is considered one of the biggest & best for precious stones, timepieces, eyewear & sterling silver.
Mahar Aung Gems Dealer’s Market (Between 39th and 40th and between 87th and 88th Street)
If you are specifically looking to buy an assortment of gems and precious rarities then we suggest you stop by Mahar Aung. Most of the shops in this market are wholesalers, but you can barter for a bargain.
Even though internet is becoming more available throughout country, it isn’t as accessible in and around Inle Lake. Internet should be available at least in your hotel lobby if not your room hours a day but be warned that it will be slow and can cut off unexpectedly.
To give you a rough idea of the standard in town, here is a list of tip ranges (although if you receive great service, please feel free to adjust these prices accordingly):
Guides : $5 – $10 total per day /Drivers: $2 – $5 total per day / Boats: $2-$4 per round-trip
Restaurants : 10% for local restaurants; 15–20% for high end European or Western restaurants.